Elsa rapidly intensified into a category one hurricane on Friday morning as the core of the storm passed over Barbados.
Forecasters expect Elsa to remain a hurricane as it begins its trek through the Caribbean Sea this weekend.
The storm could approach Florida early next week, but it’s an uncertain forecast due to Elsa’s eventual interaction with the mountainous Greater Antilles.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center upgraded Elsa from a tropical storm to a hurricane based on reports from Barbados, where hurricane force winds were observed during the height of the storm on Friday morning.
Hurricane Elsa is now a category one on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h.
St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines will likely experience hurricane conditions on Friday afternoon, with tropical storm conditions expected on nearby Martinique.
The NHC expects the storm to maintain hurricane intensity for the next couple of days as it quickly moves west through the Caribbean Sea.
An array of tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches are in effect for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica in anticipation of the storm’s arrival.
Based on current predictions, the storm will track over or near Hispaniola as a hurricane on Saturday, reaching the eastern half of Cuba as a tropical storm by Sunday.
The most significant threat to the Greater Antilles will be flash flooding and mudslides from heavy rain, as well as damaging winds.—AP